Feuds are good. Feuds are right. Feuds work. Feuds clarify, cut through and capture the essence of the evolutionary spirit. OK, that’s a blatant bastardization of Gordon Gekko’s speech in Wall Street. But the point remains: feuds are more than just, well, feuds. Feuds push the protagonists involved in them to do better (or better execute underhand tactics) in order to win.
Feuds in the crypto world are no different. Unsurprising given an industry teeming with opinionated artists and autists, volatile tech nerds and rip-off merchants, rivalrous hackers and motormouth mountebanks. Fault lines and deepening divides are the norm in these parts. While there hasn’t been a charity boxing match thus far, give it time. This lot would beat the tar out of each other if given half a chance, but will settle for subtweeting broadsides from behind seven proxies for the time being. Until Bitcoin Boxing becomes a thing, these are the eight biggest feuds in crypto history.
1. Craig Wright v Hodlonaut
Aussie computer scientist Craig Wright (CSW) says he’s Satoshi. Everyone else says he’s full of shit. You know the story. Such is Wright’s love of a good spat that his various disputes could fill up this list pretty fast. His set-to with Hodlonaut was the funniest, though.
The pseudonymous Hodlonaut, creator of the Bitcoin Lightning Torch, was one of many voices on crypto-twitter putting the proverbial boot into Wright and insisting he wasn’t Satoshi. So Wright put a $5k bounty (seems kinda measly) on the identity of his antagonist and fired off an angry letter to Hodlonaut and others, claiming that such remarks were libelous. Cue a wave of support for the Hodl meister, who flipped the script by declaring that he would initiate counter-proceedings against Wright in Norway. Wright’s original lawsuit was then thrown out due to lack of jurisdiction. Talk about egg on your face.
A brief word on those other Wright feuds: the one with Peter McCormack is rumbling through the British courts right now. The tl;dr is that McCormack, a podcaster, called Wright a fraud, causing CSW to sue him. “They want £100k and myself to bend the knee, I offered £250k and to bend the knee if Craig signs the private keys as he did for Matonis and Gavin,” retorted McCormack. Wright’s feud with bitcoin.com owner Roger Ver also led to the creation of Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV), Wright’s personal fork of Bitcoin Cash, and Wright’s bid to bitchslap Ver for libel (yes, Ver called him a fraud too) was shot down by a judge in 2019. It’s all so tiresome, Craig…
2. Arthur Hayes vs Nouriel Roubini
Memorable clashes have suitably theatrical designations: The Rumble in the Jungle. The Brawl in Montreal. The Thrilla in Manilla. In this vein, the cryptosphere has the Tangle In Taipei, the name given to the heated debate between bitcoin-hating economist Nouriel Roubini and BitMEX CEO/ Champion Chad Arthur Hayes. The war of words went down at the 2019 Asia Blockchain Summit and even had a referee in the form of the BBC’s pet bulldog Andrew Neil.
Putting a combative blockchain critic on the same stage as a cocky crypto exchange boss was always going to be good fun, and so it proved. The pair clashed on various points related to technology, security and trust, with Hayes flashing his patented megawatt smile and chuckling every time Roubini launched into a rant. Roubini later claimed to have “destroyed” Hayes while accusing him of hiding. “RELEASE THE TAPE YOU COWARD!” The feud’s gone a bit cold since last summer, though the full debate’s available on YouTube. You be the judge.
3. Roger Ver vs Samson Mow
Another blockchain forum hosted a decentralized donnybrook in 2018, as Roger Ver clashed with Blockstream’s Chief Strategy Officer Samson Mow at Deconomy 2018. The Scrap in Seoul? I’ll get my coat.
Ostensibly, the conversation was supposed to be about bitcoin scaling, a topic that’s so dry it’s as likely to incite a war of words as a discussion about tea cosies. But these two went hell for leather under the klieg lights, as Ver averred that BCH, not BTC, was the “true” bitcoin as it stood a better chance of becoming digital cash for everyday payments. Mow, for his part, defended bitcoin with the zeal of a tubby kid protecting his last cookie. Subsequent to the staged debate, Ver released footage of Samson rage quitting and running from an informal discussion which really highlights the enmity between the pair. Samson, meanwhile, has continued firing shots at Ver on Twitter after the bitcoin.com exchange listed HEX; he also dubbed Ver a scammer and referred to BCH as “stupid.” These two just don’t like each other, folks.
4. Karbonbased/Gym Friend vs Samson Mow
This particular feud kicked off when Twitter user @karbonbased, aka Joshua Davis, mocked up a humorous meme featuring Samson Mow lovingly clutching a Transformers box, juxtaposed with an image of Mow’s squeeze Lina Seiche posing alongside a hench guy in a wifebeater (now known universally as Gym Friend). The caption: You vs the guy she tells you not to worry about.
Who could’ve predicted that such an instance of good-natured ribbing would blow up so dramatically? The Gym Friend meme triggered Samson, who took to Twitter to claim that karbonbased had “added an extra misogynistic spin” to the familiar meme, calling it sexist and creepy. Playing identity politics in the Twittersphere is de rigueur these days, but Mow’s move backfired spectacularly, as the image spread like wildfire and users mocked his butthurt reaction and descent into tiresome accusations of muh misogyny. Laughably, the karbonbased account was eventually suspended from Twitter due to apparent DMCA infringements. As for Gym Friend, he agreed Mow had overreacted, saying Blockstream’s CSO “should have laughed it off.” He also agreed that the picture was more of a slur on masculinity than anything sexist against women.
Incidentally, you can’t keep a good man down: Davis made a phoenix-like return with the handle @eatmykarbon.
5. Vitalik Buterin vs Justin Sun
Two of the biggest names in the crypto world, the founders of Ethereum and Tron, have been engaged in verbal warfare for quite a few years now, stemming from… well, who the fuck knows at this point? Vitalik was one of many voices in the cryptosphere who poked fun at Sun over plagiarism allegations in the early days of Tron, and Sun threw shade on Ethereum’s success in 2017 by claiming it was “built on hype.” Sun also childishly bragged about having more Twitter followers than Buterik while the Ethereum chief referred to BitTorrent as “just another appendage of the Sun dictatorship.”
With both men essentially too big to fail at this point, and Sun’s boisterous personality at odds with Buterin’s more low-key mien, this feud ain’t ending anytime soon.
6. Changpeng Zhao vs Nouriel Roubini
Nouriel Roubini is constantly taking shots at crypto, so it was inevitable that he’d get into it with Binance boss Changpeng Zhao (CZ) at some point. Before Roubini gloved up for his assignation with Hayes at the 2019 ABS, CZ pointed out that for a guy who professes to hate crypto, Roubini spent a lot of time attending crypto conferences. In response to which, Roubini branded CZ a jerk and bragged about being “the 3rd most influential person in the world in the crypto space.” Still, Zhao’s been called worse than a jerk before. Last year, Craig Wright called him “a lowlife, money laundering piece of scum.”
7. Udi Wertheimer vs Vitalik Buterin
Ex-Paypal software engineer and bitcoin supporter Udi Wertheimer got himself forcibly removed from Vitalik’s Christmas card list when he claimed that Tron would soon surpass Ethereum. Actually, he’d made himself persona non grata before that, claiming that the ETH gang need to “wake up, smell the ashes, and take some responsibility. Their 2017 “blockchain everything” narrative failed miserably and cost retail investors BILLIONS, dumped into scams supported by ETH naiveté. We’re toxic? How dare you? Where’s your post mortem?”
To our knowledge, Buterin has refrained from throwing any jabs at Wertheimer in response, so calling this one a feud may be a reach. Come to think of it, Wertheimer seems to be exhibiting some stalkerish tendencies in a bid to get Vitalik to notice him. Keep at it, Udi.
8. Roger Ver vs Jimmy Song
The CoinsBank Blockchain Cruise was the venue for this much-discussed sparring session in 2018, as Bitcoin Core developer Jimmy Song and Roger Ver debated the future of crypto in Ibiza. As one Youtube user noted, it was more like a Jerry Springer episode than anything else, as Song – rocking a felt cowboy hat – put Ver in his place early, with the latter trying to cut in on the mic. It got so heated at one point that Ver bet Jimmy a million dollars that BCH would exceed BTC by market cap within a decade. Song shook on the bet but later claimed that Ver rejected “very fair terms” to make it official.
The beef is documented in greater detail in a Medium post written by Song, who believes Ver rage-quit the conversation. Ver, meanwhile, ended matters with a pithy barb: “I wish you good luck with your future endeavors other than destroying Bitcoin’s reputation and usefulness as cash.”
Which pair of blockchain evangelists will be the next Biggie and Tupac of the Crypto Wars?